Mauch Chunk Museum receives pioneer documents
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Left to right: John Drury of the Mauch Chunk Museum, Jim Thorpe historian Jack Gunsser, and Jack Sterling of the Mauch Chunk Historical Society review a document from the Ruddle archives.
A cache of historical documents related to an pioneer family of Carbon County, including an original letter dating to 1818, were donated to the historical societies of Jim Thorpe and are being archived at the Mauch Chunk Museum.
The materials, which were in the possession of William Kent Haydock of Darien Connecticut, contain elements of his family's history predating their arrival in America. The material had been collected by various family members for close to 200 years, and Haydock felt it was time they were turned over to an appropriate historical society.
William Kent Haydock was raised in Wyncote in Montgomery County, where the Kent family had been established since 1855. He worked for LIFE magazine and Reader's Digest.
Haydock's grandmother, Mrs. William C. Kent, was born Anna Sharpe Ruddle in Mauch Chunk in 1861. Her husband, Richard Sharpe, negotiated a lease to mine and transport Eckley coal with Francis Weiss and John Leisenring, and Lansford Foster in 1854. The Sharpe Ruddle family built a large red brick home overlooking the Lehigh River in East Jim Thorpe.
The letter of 1818, written by John Ruddle on Dec. 25, 1818 to his parents in Bristol Borough, England, begins with an account of his passage to America.
After Ruddle left Bristol on Sept. 13, 1818, he "experienced a very tough passage of 58 days journey. On Thursday, 20th November, the ship ran aground near Barnegat Island and became a complete wreck. Fortunately, we got to the island with the major part of our luggage by the means of small boats."
On the island, Ruddle was to unable to change out of his wet clothing and to dry them as best as possible before a fire. Eventually, he boated across the bay, then traveled by wagon 75 miles to Camden and rafted across the Delaware River to Philadelphia.
"Philadelphia is a very fancy city. The banking houses and some other public buildings exceed in elegance any I ever saw," Ruddle noted.
He took work, first in a brewery, then with a master carpenter in Bristol, and was planning to go to Baltimore to work for a baker.
Around 1829, John Ruddle taught school at the Lehigh Gap. He moved to Mauch Chunk and worked as a cashier and later, chief clerk for the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. He lived initially on Broadway and married Hannah Pryor in 1837. Her father was a first cousin to Josiah White, the founder of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company.
They became one of the early settlers of East Mauch Chunk, then known as the Kettle. The small waterway near the Jim Thorpe Market was known by several names: Lower Kettle Creek, Little Kettle Run, Silk Run, The Silkies, and Ruddle's Run.
John Ruddle and Hannah Pryor Ruddle had two surviving children: Ann Ruddle, who married Alexander William Leisenring-banker and brother of LC&N manager John Leisenring, and George Ruddle.
George Ruddle (1828-1904) of Mauch Chunk married Elizabeth Sharpe, daughter of Richard Sharpe, Wilkes Barre. He worked in the LC&N store on the site of the present Court House, and later in the store of Asa & R.W. Packer which stood on the corner now occupied by the Navigation Building.
George Ruddle helped survey Carbon County when it separated from Northampton County. He later joined LC&N's Accounting Department, succeeding his father as chief clerk. From 1866 to 1869 when the LC&N was extending Its Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad to connect with the Central Railroad of N.J. at Phillipsburg, N.J. Ruddle acted as cashier and disbursing officer.
After the Mansion House fire of 1869, the department moved to Philadelphia, where he was made cashier and agent of real estate, a position which he occupied until his death on June 8,1904.
George Ruddle was secretary and treasurer of the old Carbon Iron Company in Parryville, manager of the M.C. State Bank, and a director of the Mauch Chunk National Bank.
In 1854, when East Mauch Chunk became a separate Borough, John Ruddle was elected its first burgess, and George Ruddle its first secretary. John Ruddle died from injuries sustained from a railroad accident on June 10, 1865.
Anyone interested in viewing the existing archives, or donating historical records, photographs, artwork or memorabilia should contact the Mauch Chunk Museum at 570-325-9190.